Traffic Accident in Japan
I was recently involved in a minor traffic accident which involved the police which turned out to be not a traumatic as I imagined given the fearsome conviction rates of the Japanese police.
However, here is the process that I went through and so I hope it helps if you have any similar experiences. The Osaka government have a page on dealing with traffic accidents in Japan. Debito also has great advice.
Firstly – Call the police on 110. Calls are routed through to a local station and an officer or seven will come to help you sort it out.
Second, of course do not admit any fault or agree anything with the other party.
Third, when the police arrive describe as best as possible the situation. The cops that came were quite sympathetic to my awful level of Japanese and mentioned if I didn’t understand anything then please ask a question. In fact it seems that others also have had good experience with traffic cops in Japan.
I described the situation and they took measurements and photos etc. The other party also gave an account and it was all written down.
The vehicles were inspected and I had to show my driver’s license, registration card and also give my address and employer’s contact details (!).
At the time there was no ambulance called and the other party seemed to have virtually no injury so the police said that the case was shut and we had to resolve the compensation privately. We exchanged contact details. So far so good.
However the other party went to hospital for which he was given some diagnosis and so the matter was reopened as a more serious matter which meant point on a license.
I had to go back to the police office the next day and once again confirm all the details and make a written statement (which the office kindly wrote for me) and signed it with a fingerprint!
After that I got a post office receipt which could be used to give the insurance company (you did get that extra insurance right??) so they could check out the claim with the police and other party.
I didn’t get a crime or incident number or anything like that, so the receipt is the only way you’ll be able to get police documentation about the matter. Hold onto it!!
I also called my insurance company and gave them the details, describing the situation and got a letter from them for me to give my bank details and send the receipt to them.
If you have an insurance company then they will deal with everything there is no need to be involved with the other party anymore. I guess if you don’t have extra insurance then you’ll need to settle the matter yourself, possibly with the help of a lawyer.
It certainly helps if you have some Japanese ability, but if not and you don’t understand anything then you should ask the police for the number of your embassy who can put you in touch with one, or use the above list.
So all in all not a totally traumatic experience and when dealing with such a situation keep a level head and do as you would in your own country – don’t admit any fault, do exchange contact details and of course call the police (or as in this story somebody else might!)